“Mom, I’m having a panic attack.”  is a text I recently received from my daughter, Lily, during her first month of college. What prompted it? She struck up a conversation with a student in the dorm elevator and asked him, “Where are you from?”  To Lily, it was friendly question. To Lily’s new friends, however, it was not and they immediately judged her and her question.

The day before this incident, I had the pleasure of listening to William Jackson’s DEI wisdom at Recharge, a B2B training event. His first request to the group: Let’s make this a safe space. He continued by asking all of us to LISTEN more and JUDGE less.

In today’s world we are quick to place judgement on what we “think” we heard.

My daughter is in a new environment and trying her best not to say the wrong thing. Like all of us, she has past experiences she has not shared with her new friends. The trusted relationships we all long for will take time to ferment. So, she asked an authentic question, and then she felt ashamed. We’ve all been there. The question is: how do we all do better?

Let’s amp up the empathy.

The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”  Isn’t this at heart of understanding differences? Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be a given – but we have a lot of work to do.  We should slow down and take time to understand each other’s perspective, value their journeys, and spend less time dismissing people.  We need to spend more time connecting with people, getting to know them, building trust and relationships. The key is to broaden our perspective for better outcomes and grow with people who don’t look like us with different thinking. This is the POWER of DIVERSITY!

Frank & Sammy: he is my brother

There are many poignant stories about the close friendship between Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. They met early in their careers, before they were famous, and became fast friends. Back in the day, there were many times when Sammy was treated poorly. In response to this, Frank would refuse to perform, tear-up contracts and, at one point, gave Sammy his hotel room since the hotel management would not allow Sammy to stay there.  When asked why, Frank replied, “Because he is my brother.”

We must move the needle on change.

Seventy years later, these situations still occur – and we need to do better!  What are your company’s practices to acknowledge and promote equity across the organization?

We hope you will join us for a free one-hour DEI Stretch Chat with William on September 20 to dive deeper on why diversity, equity and inclusion are necessary for sustainable growth. Click here to register for this free webinar.

Some good news to close with: Lily followed-up with the group of elevator friends, and they listened! She texted me back, “Mom, it’s all good.” I was proud of her and the people around her. We can do this – we can move the needle!